Archdiocese Local Special Issue - Convocation

‘A place for the church’

Matt Gwynn is a Johnson County Community College interpreter service coordinator and parishioner at St. Paul Catholic Church in Olathe. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Matt Gwynn

Age: 58

Parish: St. Paul, Olathe

Occupation: Johnson County Community College interpreter service coordinator

What’s in your toolkit? Relationships and connections established through years of work and friendship

What is your Catholic superpower? The ability to bring some former Catholic deaf people to renew their faith again and share sign language accessible to all Catholic parishes

Before the convocation

Matt Gwynn was invited by his pastor to represent St. Paul’s deaf community as part of its parish delegation to the convocation. He was a good choice, because he likes to help deaf Catholics return to and renew their faith.

His own faith, in turn, led him to accept the invitation. But it was also the influence of his wife that led him to say “yes.” 

“My wife’s constant faith and devotion to the rosary have always been there for me,” said Gwynn. “But joining St. Luke’s Bible Study Group has inspired me to renew my own faith.”

What will make the convocation a success for him?

“To gain a better understanding of how to engage others in discussions of spirituality and the faith as a deaf man,” he said.

What he hopes to bring back to his parish is optimism and hope for others.

“I had changed my attitude to be more optimistic toward the Catholic Church,” he said. “My hope is to convince and encourage all deaf and hard-of-hearing people who claim to be Catholic, but demonstrate the opposite with their absence from the parish. 

“I want them to find a place for the church in their lives and priorities.”

After the convocation

What are the top things you’d like to see done at your parish in regard to evangelization? 

For deaf ministry, we need to go out and be visible among deaf communities such as at coffee chat with small groups. Secondly, we need to encourage our local deaf parishioners to go out and volunteer by doing community services such as providing food and serving hungry and poor people.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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